How to remember?

As the one-year anniversary of the attack on the Boston Marathon approaches, many of us are struggling for an appropriate way to observe the event. The focus of the nation’s attention, quite appropriately, will be on Boylston Street at the finish line. On Mon. April 15, a large, public memorial event planned for the Hynes Convention Center will likely be the center of international media attention.

Closer to home, some of us are conflicted about how to commemorate a tragedy that brought such pain to our neighborhood. Perhaps there’s no right way to do it. For some, the right way to cope may be to let it pass without spectacle or anything more than a private moment of silence and prayer.

For others, it will be a chance to reflect on what those hours and days were like here in Dorchester – and how many found solace in homegrown gatherings that sought to bring healing to those most affected by what happened on Boylston Street. The organic, spontaneous ways in which this community rallied behind the victims, particularly our own Richard family, remains a source of comfort and pride locally.

The day after the bombing, April 16, 2013, thousands of mourners poured onto the fields of Garvey Park for a candlelight vigil that was notable for its simplicity and respectful tone. The gathering drew people from well beyond the Neponset neighborhood, but it was largely a communal prayer service and a chance for grieving friends and neighbors to find comfort in each other’s company. The fact that it took place on the very fields where the Richard family— particularly young Martin— played made it especially poignant.

In recent weeks, an online effort has sprouted to reconvene at Garvey on the anniversary of the attack— Tues., April 15, at 7 p.m. One of the organizers, a Dorchester native who wanted to stay anonymous, told the Reporter that he’s hoping that the vigil will retain the simple grassroots qualities that made last year’s event special. “We’ll have candles and flags and maybe a small P.A. system,” he said. And “maybe the mayor will say a few words.” So far, more than 500 people have indicated on Facebook that they will attend.

This week, the mayor’s office announced that a special exhibit will open next week at the Boston Public Library’s Copley Square branch. The presentation – “Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial” – comprises thousands of items from the makeshift memorial that sprung up on Boylston Street last year.

“Dear Boston represents our strength and solidarity not only as a city, but also as a community that supports one another through even the most difficult of times,” said Mayor Walsh. “I encourage people – residents and visitors alike – to visit the exhibition, experience the resilience of the people of Boston, and view the messages of hope and healing.”

After a ceremony led by the mayor on April 7 at 11 a.m., the exhibit will be open to the public in the McKim Exhibition Hall, located in the Central Library at 700 Boylston St. It will remain open during library hours through May 11.

– Bill Forry

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